Merchant seaman airlifted to hospital from ship in daring rescue off the Sunderland coast

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A Merchant seaman who suffered a possible heart attack on board a ship stationed off the coast of Sunderland sparked a daring rescue by a lifeboat crew.

Volunteers from Tynemouths RNLI braved strong winds and a tidal surge, yesterday, to reach the chief engineer who had taken ill after suffering a possible heart attack on board the 22,100 tonne bulk carrer HC Jette-Marit.

Merchant seaman airlifted to hospital after taking ill on board a ship off the coast of Sunderland. Credit  Michael Brown/RNLI

Merchant seaman airlifted to hospital after taking ill on board a ship off the coast of Sunderland. Credit Michael Brown/RNLI

The ship was stationed four miles east of Sunderland when the alarm was raised by the captain at 1pm on Friday.

Initially, the Ukranian national refused to be evacuated but an hour later he was persuaded to accept help.

Two of the six-strong volunteer lifebrigade crew, battled the hazardous conditions to board the ship with a casualty care kit and gave first aid.

With conditions worsening, the man was unable to be transported back to the shore by sea.

A Coastguard rescue helicopter was called for and after the winchman gave further treatment he was airlifted to Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary.

The two volunteer lifebrigade members were also airlifted due to the severity of the sea making it too dangerous for them to return to the lifeboat.

Adrian Don, spokesman for Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat station, said: "This was an unusual situation with the casualty initially refusing any help despite suffering what could have been a fatal condition.

"The casualty was able to walk off the helicopter and we hope he makes a full recovery. His arrival at hospital was only made possible by the coordinated rescue response and in particular the skill, determination and bravery of our volunteer lifeboat crew and the helicopter crew, who worked in very challenging sea and weather conditions."